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6 min read

How to protect hair from hard water buildup and lose the tangles

How to protect hair from hard water buildup and lose the tangles

Can your water be the reason your hair is lackluster and not the crowning glory you want? It’s possible, especially if you live in a hard water area.

If your hair is rough and tangles easily and if it seems like it’s unnaturally dry and brittle, it could be because you’re using hard water. Another sign of hard water troubles is if your hair feels like it’s got a filmy buildup that’s weighing it down.

It seems counter-intuitive that the water you’re using to clean yourself if actually creating a buildup and zapping moisture, but it’s possible.

What is hard water?

Hard water is water that has a high mineral content. Typically, calcium and magnesium are the most frequently seen culprits. If you’ve ever lived in a house with well water, you know exactly what hard water is.

Water becomes hard as it filters through the earth on the way to your local or personal well. As it travels through the ground, it picks up minerals that aren’t harmful to consume but they can be rough on your skin, body and even your pipes.

The adjective hard does not refer to the texture of the water, but its difficulty to use. Hard water requires more chemicals than soft water to achieve the same cleaning effects.

How hard water is hard on your hair

If you have hard water, those minerals build up on your hair and your skin. They tend to dry out your body’s surfaces and require more soap and shampoo to remove. Both the drying effect of the minerals in the water and the excess cleaning products can cause skin irritation and poor hair performance.

In addition to the buildup and the consequent treatment of the buildup affecting your hair, hard water tends to make the scales on your hair shaft stand up. This gives your hair a rough feel and it tangles easily.

While the scales are standing at attention, they capture and hold onto shampoo and conditioners, making them harder to rinse out. They also lose moisture more readily.

How to protect your hair from hard water

If it seems like hard water may be your hair’s foe, the following tips will be your new best friends. Mix and match until you find the right combination to give you locks you love. There are lots of rinses available, with lots of benefits.

Vinegar rinse. Vinegar works in a few ways to combat hard water. The acidity of it makes it an ideal agent to dissolve calcium buildup in your hair. It’s also really good at balancing the pH value of your hair and smoothing the hair cuticle.

You don’t need to use a lot of vinegar. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in 2 cups of water rinsed into your hair once a week should give you noticeable results.

Citrus rinse. If the idea of having hair that smells like vinegar is a turn off, how about a lemon/lime rinse? This mixture works on the same premise as the vinegar rinse, but an important thing to take note of is that lemon and lime can both lighten your hair over time, they’re also not always nice to colored hair.

To make a lemon/lime rinse, add a half tablespoon of lemon and a half tablespoon of time to three cups of water. After shampooing your hair, rinse it with your citrus mixture and work through your hair, letting it sit in the hair for a couple minutes before rinsing it out.

Water softener. If you want to remedy the problem of hard water throughout the whole home forever, then a water softener is the solution. It’s not an inexpensive solution and will most likely require professional installation and regular maintenance.

The best news for people who opt for a water softener is that it will not only improve the quality of your skin and hair, but you’ll be able to use less soap overall and no longer have to worry about limescale buildup.

If you have skin conditions like eczema and dandruff, you might also notice some benefits in reduced symptoms.

Shower filter. A less expensive option to the water softener is a shower filter that attaches to your shower head to soften water as it comes out of the pipes.

Filtered water. A quick trick that works great alone or with a rinse is filtering your tap water and keeping a jug of it in the shower. Then give your hair a nice filtered water rinse at the end of your shower.

Rain water. Rain water is “soft” and mineral-free. It doesn’t turn hard until it filters through the ground. You can harness this softness for your hair by harvesting rainwater and then giving your hair a good rainy rinse after washing and conditioning.

That is, if you don’t live in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, or Utah. These states have laws preventing the collection of rainwater.

Final thoughts

Hard water doesn’t feel any different than soft water, but the mineral buildup in it makes it more difficult to rinse clear. This means your hair is often left with a buildup of both minerals in the water and leftover shampoo and conditioner.

If you think hard water is sabotaging your best efforts to have amazing hair, try the tips above to combat the buildup. One of these tips might work for you, or you might want to try a couple of them to get the results you want.

No matter what solution works for you, the main takeaway is that there is a solution and hard water doesn’t need to weigh you down.

At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

Join now for instant access to livestreams, discussions, and exclusive access to new products!

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    At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

    Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

    Join now for instant access to livestreams, discussions, and exclusive access to new products!

    JOIN THE GROUP